Action! This Week! Public Hearing on Dumping of Human Feces and Urine

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Help Us Put an End to Politicians and Developers Using Our Public Waters as Their Private Cesspool

Public Hearing, this Thursday,

on the “Legal Dumping” of Human Waste

 into Otter Creek and Lake Champlain–our recreational waters and drinking water supply

The Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources will hold a public meeting on Thursday, September 2, 2021, on the proposed permits for four wastewater treatment facilities: Wallingford, Pittsford, Brandon and Rutland. Rutland, in particular, is notorious for diverting untreated human feces and urine, industrial toxins, and gutter pollutants into public waters, having done so, that we know of, more than 500 times in the last 6 years alone.  This must stop. We cannot continue to add more demands on failing and inadequate treatment plants–the operators are maxed out, stormwater and wastewater are insufficient, and drinking water treatment is outdated.  We are literally slowly poisoning our home and ourselves. 

Please make your voice heard!  These permits only come up for hearings every five years and Rutland has been operating on a permit from 2002!!! Yes, 19 years with no public review! Please do not let these permits to pollute go unchallenged! We must fight back demanding that no new permits be issued until developers and municipalities can demonstrate sufficient environmental protections are in place.

The public hearing will begin at 6pm in the Asa Bloomer State Building, located at 88 Merchants Row and 92 State Street Rutland, VT 05702, Conference Room 266. A virtual option for attending the meeting will also be available. 

For information on attending the meeting, go to the WSMD website at: https://anrweb.vt.gov/DEC/IWIS/ReportViewer2.aspx?Report=WWPublicNotices&ViewParms=False

Written public comments on the proposed permits must be received on or before the close of the business day (4:30 pm) on September 10, 2021, to the Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation, Watershed Management Division, 1 National Life Drive, David Bldg 3rd Floor, Montpelier, Vermont 05620-3522.  Comments may also be submitted by e-mail using the e-mail comment provisions included at http://dec.vermont.gov/watershed/wastewater/ public-notices–fact-sheets–draft-permits. All comments received by the above date will be considered in formulation of the final determinations.

In making a final determination on the applications, the Agency will consider all information received by that date or presented at the meeting.

Please make your voice heard.  Nothing will change until more of us speak out. We need not be experts to file a comment or make a statement expressing our expectation that politicians and supposed state environmental protection officials prioritize protecting our health and wellbeing and that of our natural world. If we don’t they will continue to work on behalf of developers only focused on their own profits spreading false messages that rain is the cause of pollution.

As always, please let me know how I can be of service to you in advancing our mutual interest in swimmable, drinkable, and fishable waters.

On behalf of those downstream, with gratitude,

James Ehlers

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Don McDowell speaks to Agency of Natural Resources Secretary and staff in Newport, Vermont on Aug. 24, 2021 about the Casella Landfill in Coventry

Video of Don McDowell, retired Stowe High School science teacher, at public hearing held by Vermont Agency of Natural Resources about Casella’s Coventry Landfill and its impacts on Lake Memphremagog, August 24, 2021

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Vermont ANR Public Hearing on Casella’s Coventry Landfill, Aug. 24, 2019 and Statement by DUMP

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“Societal Benefits”

How the Public Utility Commission Sacrifices Vermont’s Scenic Beauty

Our recent journey into a previously overlooked area of Vermont’s regulatory decision-making process began with a phone call from a neighbor of the field in the photo to the right, the site of a proposed 500 kW net-metered solar array in Manchester with a view of Mt. Equinox.

The caller explained that the evidentiary hearing was held the day before, but he and his neighbors had no clue how to participate in the Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) process. As a result, they had nothing in the evidentiary record to support their issues with the site, which include the fact that the field floods regularly, resulting in ice jams in winter. And then there is the view – the scenic natural beauty of the area, which is enjoyed by residents of the neighborhood and drivers on Richville Road.

We learned from reading the transcript of the hearing that the PUC Hearing Officer asked the parties to Brief two specific topics:  

1) the part of the Quechee analysis (aesthetics test) about whether a project offends the sensibilities of the average person, and 

2) “societal benefits.”

While we were aware that the PUC added a section to the Quechee analysis that was developed for use in Act 250 to evaluate aesthetic effects of a development, it is not something we paid much attention to. We will from now on. Here’s why:

Continue reading
Posted in ANR, DPS, PUC, Solar, Water | 2 Comments

Green Energy Truths

https://www.caledonianrecord.com/opinion/columns/annette-smith-green-energy-truths—report-from-the-front-lines-of-vermont/article_da50ba64-ad8a-545c-b361-6a431b8dcc27.html

Report From the Front Lines of Vermont

Michael Moore’s documentary “Planet of the Humans” by Jeff Gibbs and Ozzie Zehner has stirred up a frenzy of criticism from climate change activists, a Rolling Stone rebuttal by 350.org founder Bill McKibben, and demands by filmmaker Josh Fox to take the movie down

I am motivated to write from the trenches of Vermont, where some of the film’s footage is centered, in response to the strident accusations that “Planet of the Humans” is causing tremendous damage to the climate change movement by casting renewables – wind, solar and biomass – in negative terms full of inaccuracies.

“Planet of the Humans” was too kind to renewable energy.  It is an ugly business.  Greed and political power combine with renewable energy to destroy the environment and the lives of the people who live nearby.

After the video’s release, I received a critique originating from Vermont by someone I do not know stating, “My guess is that the group he is walking with in this section is Annette Smith’s Vermonters for a Clean Environment, which has done more harm to Vermont’s transition off of fossil fuels to renewable energy than everyone else combined.”  Yes, that’s me, the thorn in the side of renewable developers.  No, I was not in the film. 

In 1999, I founded an organization to fight a natural gas power plant and pipeline project supported by then-Governor Howard Dean.  Living off-grid with solar, batteries and a generator, I believed solar was our energy future.  With facts, information and grassroots organizing, we ran the gas guys out of the state. 

In 2009, an industrial wind project was proposed in my county. Numerous people on both sides reached out asking us to get involved. 

To my surprise, wind energy development, especially on top of mountains, raised numerous issues. I had seen the eleven 196’ tall 600 kW wind turbines built in 1996 in southern Vermont and thought they were beautiful.  I went with a friend whose farm hosted SolarFest to see a New York project with fifty 420’ tall 2.5 mW wind turbines.  We talked to a farmer who hosted some of the turbines. We talked to neighbors who wished they hadn’t signed the lease because the noise was horrible after being told there would be no noise.  On the ride home we agreed that what we saw was “very disturbing.” 

The next ten years blur together as Vermonters elected a governor committed to building as much renewable energy everywhere possible. 

Governor Peter Shumlin, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Bill McKibben shut down conversations about impacts to communities and the natural environment because “we do not have time for that conversation.” At a Bernie Sanders press conference, we were compared to creationists.  Gov. Shumlin called us “cave people.”  

Now, thanks to “Planet of the Humans”, we are finally having that conversation.  

The former state naturalist, a climate change scientist, a wildlife habitat specialist, and a former commissioner of fish and wildlife came together to educate the public about our mountains’ values for climate change adaptation, with a series of roundtable discussions called Peak Keepers about the importance of mountains for wildlife, water, and forests. 

When the Lowell Mountains were being sacrificed for the wind project developed by Green Mountain Power — subsidiary of Energir, 30% owned by fossil fuel pipeline developer Enbridge — Vermonters hiked up the other side of the mountain to see for themselves what “green energy” looks like. 

Don and Shirley Nelson’s farm bordered the wind project for a mile and a half.  For 50 years, the Nelsons never kept anyone off their ~600 acres. They permitted people to hike up. GMP was not happy. With no notice to the Nelsons, GMP got a Temporary Restraining Order and sued them, prohibiting everyone from going within 1000 feet of the wind project site. Police with dogs patrolled and arrested people, including a reporter.  At least 20 people were arrested on different occasions, some intentionally. 

A Vermonter invited Bill McKibben to come see for himself.  He declined. 

After the wind project was built, the Nelsons got sick from the wind project’s acoustic emissions and had no choice but to sell to GMP.  It came with a gag order so Don and Shirley cannot talk about their experience.  They were collateral damage.  Many other neighbors of industrial wind projects have shared the same fate

As more wind projects were proposed in Vermont, I watched people lose their innocence as they, like me, thought wind and solar energy were going to save the planet.  The more we learned, the more opposed we became. 

The film neglects the societal damage caused by wind energy.  Wind developers’ playbook requires dividing communities. It is guaranteed that opposition will arise, so they try to create a proponent group to combat the opponents.  Even areas where wind projects have failed are left with animosities that will take generations to heal. We have seen companies offer to write letters for proponents to send to the local papers and try to buy votes.  

We have grieved the loss of people who have died deaths of despair after the mountains they loved were destroyed or their homes became uninhabitable after the wind projects become operational.  

In 2016, I felt the wrath of the wind and solar industry when someone filed a complaint with Vermont’s Attorney General alleging I was practicing law without a license by assisting people in participating in the regulatory process for energy projects at the Public Utility Commission.  It was a criminal investigation. Newspaper editorials and Green Mountain Power came to my defense.  I hired a criminal defense attorney who wrote a letter to the AG pointing out that “the AG’s office is not the surrogate of the politically frustrated.”  The AG dropped it, and an attorney who previously sent a letter telling me he represented a wind and solar developer admitted he filed the complaint, but claimed he did it on his own.  

Industrial solar is no better. A wealthy developer seeking to cut more than 100 acres of forest filed lawsuits against a town, neighbors, state agencies, and even the governor while proclaiming he is saving the planet and anyone who stands in his way is “signing the death warrant of many Americans.” 

This year, biomass plant owner Engie came to the Vermont legislature seeking subsidies to enable continuing burning forests for a small amount of electricity that drives up rates for Vermonters.  The state’s leading environmental group Vermont Natural Resources Council, with Bill McKibben on their Advisory Committee, supported it. Bill McKibben did not weigh in.  Apparently he prefers to maximize his own carbon footprint by traveling the planet lecturing people about how they have to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Try to talk to Bill McKibben about solar and wind energy.  He treats it as a personal attack as though his feeling are hurt.  He can endlessly rattle off statistics about climate change.  But, when asked the question about who funds 350.org, he acted stupid, or as though it wasn’t relevant. 

I looked up 350.org’s 990s and learned that in 2017 the organization had $19 million in funding.  Over a five year period, the organization’s funding was $66 million. It is reasonable to expect Bill McKibben to know its source. 

Please do not feel sorry for Bill McKibben.  He and his enablers doth protest too much. 

Yes, “Planet of the Humans” was too kind to the renewablists.  It is all about the money.  “Climate emergency” activists and their funders are doing a lot of damage to the planet by focusing only on CO2, proclaiming wind and solar will save the planet, distracting us from the overarching issues of pollution, population and over-consumption that are killing our planet.

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Testimony about Act 250 in Vermont House, Legislature 2020

For Documents and Agendas, see House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee website https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/detail/2020/12


Tuesday, January 7, 2020
1:00 PM
Act 250
Introductions, Narrative Review
Ellen Czajkowski, Legislative Counsel, Office of Legislative Council
Peter Walke, Deputy Secretary, Agency of Natural Resources
Brian Shupe, Executive Director, Vermont Natural Resources Council
Chris Cochran, Director of Community Planning & Revitalization, Housing and Community Development

Tuesday, January 14, 2020
1:00 PM
Act 250
Administration Proposals
Matthew Chapman, General Counsel, Agency of Natural Resources
Jon Groveman, Policy and Water Program Director, Vermont Natural Resources Council
Chris Cochran, Director of Community Planning & Revitalization, Housing and Community Development
Peter Walke, Deputy Secretary, Agency of Natural Resources
Billy Coster, Director of Planning and Policy, Agency of Natural Resources
Greg Boulbol, General Counsel, Natural Resources Board
3:00 PM
Act 250
Annette Smith, Executive Director, Vermonters for a Clean Environment

Tuesday, January 14, 2020
3:45 PM
Act 250
Slate Quarries, Mapping
Diane Snelling, Chair, Natural Resources Board
Ryan Knox, GIS Professional, Agency of Natural Resources
Chris Smid, New England Slate Company
Craig Markcrow, Owner and President, Vermont Structural Slate Company
Jon Hill, Owner, Green Stone Slate

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Vt. Senate Committee Looks At Allegations That CSWD Dumped Glass Instead Of Recycling It

 

CSWD Glass Samples

https://www.vpr.org/post/vt-senate-committee-looks-allegations-cswd-dumped-glass-instead-recycling-it

Vt. Senate Committee Looks At Allegations That CSWD Dumped Glass Instead Of Recycling It

By JOHN DILLON  16 HOURS AGO

The state is investigating the Chittenden Solid Waste District for allegedly dumping glass it collects from northern Vermont instead of recycling the material as required.

The state put the district on notice last year that it had allegedly violated environmental laws. The allegations resurfaced Wednesday in a Senate committee; Chittenden Solid Waste District officials say they have not done anything wrong.

John Brabant was a state regulator on waste issues for 25 years and now works for Vermonters for a Clean Environment, an activist group. Continue reading

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5G — Is it Safe?

NoProblem

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Testimony by VCE to House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee, Feb. 14, 2019

Click on each link to watch or read the presentation

Screen Shot 2019-02-18 at 2.40.08 PM

https://youtu.be/T4-H76wM4jI

 

Posted in Act 250, ANR, Blittersdorf, Deerfield, DPS, Energy Planning, GMNF, Grafton Windham, Green Mountain Power, Irasburg Wind, Lowell, PSB, PUC, sheffield, Solar, Swanton, USFS, VCE, Water, Wetlands, Wind Energy | Leave a comment

Where Does Your Garbage Go?

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Where Does Your Garbage Go?

As a young man I used to bring my worst trash to Charlie Nadeau’s Dump in Coventry in northern Orleans County.   The 13 acre unlined dump was located on the edge of an extensive wetland and the Black River which form the headwaters of Lake Memphremagog flowing north into Quebec.  I would return home thinking, “I am helping to poison a river.”  I was part of the problem.    

Fast-forward fifty years. We have become a throw-away society. The waste stream is larger, and carries new compounds of toxic chemicals, harmful to human health, which persist in our environment, unable to break down. Plastics are ubiquitious. Our understanding of how to handle and recycle waste has also changed.  What has not changed in Vermont is the location of the Coventry site which has morphed into a 78 acre mega-landfill operated by Casella Waste Systems, Inc. Continue reading

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